At 19 years old and with a wealth of ability, John Wall represents the Washington Wizards' new commitment to youth and a fresh start. That made Wall and fellow Wizards draft picks Trevor Booker and Hamady Ndiaye ideal fits as speakers for the team's basketball camp for kids on Wednesday at Archbishop Spalding.
Still a teenager himself, Wall was at ease passing along tidbits of advice to boys and girls ages 8-17, all of whom listened with rapt attention to the No. 1 overall pick in June's NBA draft.
Included in his greeting to the approximately 50 campers was an emphasis on education and devotion to family and friends.
Wall also fielded questions from the camp participants, one of whom asked whether the point guard could perform the John Wall dance that became an Internet sensation during this past year when he played his only season at the University of Kentucky. Wall was more than happy to oblige, drawing laughs from Booker and Ndiaye.
Wall also discussed his decision to wear No. 2. He had grown accustomed to donning a No. 11 jersey during high school and college, but Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes wore that number with Washington, and it is retired. Wall said the Wizards presented him with all the available numbers, and he settled on No. 2 to honor each of his parents.
"It was a tough process," Wall said. "I wanted number 11, but a great guy, Elvin Hayes, retired it, so basically I just got down to four or five numbers and decided from there."
As far as the Wizards are concerned, the most important number this season will be how many more wins they can manage after a season in which they finished 26-56. That was the worst record in the Eastern Conference, and only two teams had fewer victories.
The Wizards' fortunes turned when they won the NBA draft lottery and embarked on their path toward Wall, who became the club's first No. 1 overall selection since Kwame Brown in 2001. Then through some draft-day maneuvering, Washington added four first-year NBA players as well as Kirk Hinirch, who is a hardy defender capable of playing either guard position. The Wizards five days later acquired 7-footer Yi Jianlian from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for swingman Quinton Ross and thus have assembled one of the more unconventional frontcourts in the NBA.
Washington will have a minicamp at Verizon Center this week before selected players head out of town Sunday to begin summer league play in Las Vegas.
Wall, Booker and Ndiaye will participate, as will young teammates such as JaVale McGee who need to hone their game.
"It's going to be tough," Wall said. "First time playing together as a team, where [teammates] like the ball, where they like the ball in certain situations, what type of players they are, if they're athletic, if they can shoot. That's the key for me as point guard to figure out what my players like."
Note: The Wizards announced that former Maryland guard Eric Hayes will be on their summer league roster.